The origin of the mutant known as Masque is a complete mystery. Cursed with a repulsive appearance, he was gifted with the ability to shape other people's appearance. Unable to affect his own looks, he grew to loathe beauty in every form. In coallition with other outcast mutants who were unable to adapt to society due to their appearance, Masque helped to found the Morlocks, a hidden community of mutants who lived underground in the tunnels of New York City.
Although most of the Morlocks are peaceful, Masque has always showed vile intentions. After seizing the leadership of the Morlocks, he radicalized the group as a band of extremist terrorists. His stance led him to be ultimately forge an alliance with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and to be executed by X-Force member Shatterstar. Years laters, it was revealed he survived, now with the ability of altering his own body. Eventually, he returned to his old ways.
When mutantkind migrated to the island nation of Krakoa by Professor X's invitation, Masque joined the new mutant society alongside other villains. With other Morlocks, he was granted a luxurious lifestyle financed by the Hellfire Trading Company. Eventually, Masque once again led the Morlocks to battle, this time to assist the Hellfire Trading Company's agents: the Marauders.
The precise origins of the mutant known as Masque are unknown. After becoming an outcast due to his hideously deformed appearance, he founded the Morlocks alongside his peer mutants Callisto, Caliban and Sunder. The Morlocks were forced to hide from a society which hated and feared them in sewer tunnels in order to protect themselves. Masque was the most resentful of all Morlocks due to his ability to sculpt anyone's appearance but his own. In response to their bitter seclusion, the Morlocks decided to counter-attack the surface mutant society by kidnapping the handsome Angel, forcing him to marry their leader, Callisto. However, their attack led Angel's allies, the X-Men, to invade the Morlock Tunnels. Heavily outnumbered, the X-Men were overwhelmed and had their leader, Storm, duel to the death with Callisto for their freedom. Unexpectedly, Storm won the battle and seized the leadership of the Morlocks from Callisto.
Under Storm's leadership, the Morlocks proved to be rebellious and once again put their kidnapping plans into execution. This time their victim was Kitty Pryde, with whom Caliban was infatuated. After kidnapping her, Masque used his powers on a homeless girl's corpse, giving her Pryde's face, making the X-Men believe she had fallen to her death. The ruse was immediately discovered by Wolverine. Meanwhile, in the Morlock Tunnels, Masque tortured the real Kitty Pryde by changing her appearance, something that was disapproved by Callisto. When the X-Men came to her rescue, Kitty asked them to cease the confrontation and chose to keep her promise of marrying Caliban. However, noticing her suffering, Caliban decided to let Pryde leave the Morlocks.
When Power Pack entered the Morlock Tunnels to recover their schoolbooks, they were attacked and kidnapped by a band of rogue Morlocks known as the Drain Dwellers, under Annalee's orders, who wished to replace her late children with Power Pack. Masque was charged with changing their appearance so they would resemble Annalee's children, a way of paying a debt he had with her, but the Power Pack resisted. The Drain Dwellers were defeated by the joined effort of the Power Pack and the X-Men Kitty Pryde and Nightcrawler, who were visiting the Morlocks. Shortly after, the Drain Dwellers tried to capture the Power Pack again. Katie Power managed to escape, but not before Masque deformed their faces and Beautiful Dreamer altered their memories. With Katie under police custody, the X-Men decided to rescue her and help her save her siblings. The X-Men found the kids being threatened by Masque after a fight. Callisto interrupted the commotion and demanded Analee to leave Power Pack alone, ordering Masque and Beautiful Dreamer to restore them to their former selves.
Masque was one of the few Morlocks to escape the Marauders during the Mutant Massacre by joining a reactive faction of Morlocks known as the Tunnelers, led by Berzerker. The group had a brief conflict with X-Factor, but ultimately decided to go to the X-Factor Complex, where they were promised sanctuary with other rescued Morlocks. However, Berzeker did not trust X-Factor, due to their reputation as mutant hunters, and convinced the Tunnelers to escape. Alone on the streets, the Tunnelers were attacked by criminals and defended themselves, catching the police's attention. The fight against the police cost the lives of all Tunnelers except for Masque, who was rescued by X-Factor and brought back to their complex.
Masque proved to be a problematic company in the X-Factor Complex, causing trouble with other X-Factor's protégés, especially Boom-Boom. As the Morlocks learned there were other survivors from the attack, they decided to leave the X-Factor Complex and resettle in the tunnels. Before leaving, Masque tormented X-Factor member Beast by deforming his face, but was forced by Caliban to restore him. Soon after, X-Factor wards Rusty Collins and Skids were attacked by Masque in the Morlock Tunnels. After escaping, Collins saw in Masque an opportunity to rearrange Emma la Porte's beauty, who had been burned by Collins' pyrokinetic powers. Masque accepted for a price: that Collins' face would be disfigured instead. However, after Skids confronted Masque, Emma rejected the deal and decided to join the Morlocks.
After the slaughter of most of his brethren, Callisto traveled to Moira MacTaggert's hospital on Muir Island, to stay with the few surviving Morlocks in recovery. When Callisto returned to New York months later to seal off the tunnels that connected the X-Mansion to the Morlock Tunnels, she was kidnapped by a group of Morlocks led by Masque. Masque gave Callisto a stunning new appearance, which inadvertently lured X-Man Colossus – who had resurfaced with amnesia as the artist "Peter Nicholas", after having traveled through the Siege Perilous.
Masque also used his powers on his new Morlocks, changing their appearance to resemble the X-Men. Living in the ruins of the X-Mansion, their next victim was Jean Grey, who was seized and kidnapped by her doppelgänger, Bliss. Though Jean Grey was rescued by Forge and Banshee, the latter was recaptured alongside herself shortly after. As Forge invaded the tunnels and confronted the Morlocks, he shockingly learned Masque had bizarrely deformed both Jean and Banshee. Simultaneously, Masque recaptured Callisto, now a fashion model, and her lover, Peter Nicholas. They were tortured by Masque until being rescued by Jean Grey, Forge and Banshee, who defeated the Morlocks. Masque forced the X-Men out of his tunnels, expecting them to come back begging for him to restore their appearance. However, Forge was successful in accomplishing so without Masque's intervention.
Maintaining his ruthless rule in the Morlock Tunnels, Masque clashed with Cable's New Mutants, who were living in the ruins of the X-Mansion. Each group agreed not to cross each other's way. The peace pact failed when Feral escaped Masque's clutches and sought help with the New Mutants. Masque infiltrated the X-Mansion alongside his lackeys Brute and Hump to have Feral back. Cable murdered Brute in cold blood as a warning, forcing Masque to abandon the mansion, now seeking revenge against Cable.
When the Morlock Tunnels were at risk of being flooded during a heavy rainstorm, Masque ordered the Morlocks to redirect the water flow to the drains where the X-Man Wolverine and the Marauder Sabretooth were fighting. After the storm, Masque found the robots Albert and Elsie Dee damaged in the drains. Masque and his Morlocks were then forced by Albert to repair Elsie-Dee's faulty body. With Elsie-Dee recovered, Masque gladly sent the androids off.
Still wishing for revenge, Masque agreed to team his Morlocks up with Toad's Brotherhood of Evil Mutants to take down Cable's new team, X-Force. Masque and his allies infiltrated X-Force Headquarters and managed to fatally wound Cannonball. In retaliation, Masque was killed by X-Force member Shatterstar. Later on, Cable exhibited Masque's robe to the rest of the Morlocks as a final warning not to cross X-Force ever again.
Masque survived the wounds, by apparently developing the ability to finally alter his own shape. This new talent changed Masque's life immensely, as he reshaped his face to resemble celebrity actress Marilyn Monroe's. Masque ascended to a position of wealth, glory and exuberance by ruling an underground cadre of mutant gladiators who fought for fame and the right to control defeated warriors in combat in the "Arena". Masque's champion was Callisto, whom he manipulated by giving her octopus-like tentacles instead of arms. When Storm, the new champion of the Tokyo Arena, was defeated by Callisto as a result of Masque's machinations, he revealed himself and claimed ownership of Storm as his new champion.
Callisto and Storm acted as Masque's warriors for days, fighting many battles in the Arena. Eventually, Masque was offered a large amount of money by the slaver known as Tullamore Voge in exchange for Storm. Upon this revelation, Storm and Callisto rebelled. With help from Japanese mercenary Yukio, Storm and Callisto defeated Masque's lackeys and captured him. After being tortured, Masque was trapped inside a crate and shipped to Voge in Storm's place.
Following the mutant decimation after the M-Day, Masque returned to the sewers where he once lived, leading a band of Morlocks including Skids, Bliss, Erg and Litterbug. Masque had information about a prophecy written by the late Morlock clairvoyant Querty, who foresaw mutants might yet come to rule the world after the M-Day. The extremist Morlocks, in search of Magneto (who was mentioned in the prophecy), assaulted and maimed Caliban in order to abduct former Morlock Leech. The assault on Caliban, however, caught the X-Men's attention, who invaded the Morlock Tunnels. Meanwhile, Masque and his Morlocks set off a bomb in a packed subway train and the passengers were disfigured by Masque. Masque then released a video about the motivations behind his terrorist attacks to the public, which led them to be a target of O*N*E. The Morlocks violently attacked the O*N*E agents and escaped.
The X-Men, now assisted by Skids, tracked the Morlocks down in the tunnels to rescue Leech. Engaging in a direct conflict, Masque easily overpowered Warpath and Hepzibah by masquerading as Leech. Soon after, Masque kidnapped Storm, who had just been buried alive in the tunnels, and trapped her inside a coffin to torment her, since he knew about her claustrophobia. Following the prophecy, Masque decided to bomb the Saint Patrick's Cathedral, an act that was claimed to ensure Magneto's return. Before he could finish his plan, Storm used her powers to free herself and her team. The Morlocks were overpowered and Masque was brutally knocked out by Caliban. Even though he was defeated by the X-Men, Masque's plan was successful in the sense that Magneto was informed about the prophecy by Skids, and made his return soon after.
When X-Men leader Cyclops offered asylum to all mutants in San Francisco, he asked Storm to invite Masque and his Morlocks to join his new refuge. Before finding the Morlocks, Storm had to leave Cyclops in the Morlock Tunnels due to her obligations as the Queen of Wakanda. Cyclops was attacked by Masque and his Morlocks, who were secretly controlled by the Shadow King. However, Cyclops managed to overwhelm them.
Ultimately, Masque and his troublesome Morlocks joined Cyclops in Utopia, an X-Men base. Masque rekindled his partnership with Toad when Utopia was attacked by the Evolutionaries. Toad decided to attack the X-Club to learn about the Evolutionaries' ties to the original Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. After Masque used his powers to disfigure the telepath Irma Cuckoo, Toad and his band of outcasts were attacked and defeated by the New X-Men.
Following the war between the Avengers and the X-Men, Utopia was abandoned. However, its ruins were inhabited by a group of mutants, including Masque. These so-called "Utopians" were found by a S.H.I.E.L.D. recon team, which was violently cast out of the island. S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Maria Hill reached out to the time-displaced X-Men to investigate the conflict. The group engaged the Utopians and, after talking the situation out and discovering the Utopians merely wished to be safe and undisturbed, the X-Men offered them a place at the New Charles Xavier School, which they accepted.
After the conflict between the mutants and Inhumans, Masque joined the latest incarnation of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, now led by a repowered Mesmero. He took part in an attack against the United Nations and in kidnapping of Mayor Bill de Blasio. The X-Men discovered that all of Mesmero's allies had been brainwashed into joining the Brotherhood and were carrying out those attacks under Lydia Nance's orders. As Mesmero's control was lifted, Masque left the Brotherhood.
Masque, like all mutants on the world, was welcomed to the new island-nation of Krakoa, created by Professor X as a haven for mutantkind. He entered through a teleportation gateway alongside other villainous and fractious mutants, in order to unite mutantdom. Masque and other Morlocks, under the Hellfire Trading Company's care, were placed in a retirement place Rio Verde, Arizona, where they could enjoy a luxurious residence and the bright sunlight. Masque apparently spent most of his time playing golf.
When the Hellfire Trading Company's White Queen inaugurated the Moira MacTaggart Memorial Public Hospital in Madripoor's Lowtown, her White Knight, Callisto, requested Masque to join their medical staff. For the first time in his life, Masque had the opportunity to make use of his abilities to heal instead of hurting or tormenting others. Days later, Callisto forced Masque once again into playing hero, as she demanded the Morlocks from Rio Verde to save Lowtown from the Reavers. After fending off the Reavers, Masque and the other Morlocks enjoyed the night at the Princess Bar, Madripoor, where he learned his actions made Lowtown to be known as "Mutietown".
Powers and Abilities
Body Alteration: Masque is a mutant who possesses the ability to change the physical appearance of any other person by touch. This power is psionic in nature and allows Masque to rearrange the flesh of any organic substance. Modifying hair and skin color, body structure and several other features, Masque can alter the shape of a victim to any shape he can think of, including making a copy of another person, replacing limbs with inhuman tentacles. Masque uses his power by either shaping the flesh with his hands, as if sculpting; but he can also use his power mentally: a single touch can modify the whole body of a victim instantly, with the changing extending from the point that Masque's touches in a mere instant. The change is far from traumatic for the subjects, who pronto adapt physically and mentally to their new organisms. Masque can also use his power in combat, by making an enemy's limbs attached to their body or by closing their breathing orifices to limit their combat prowess. Masque's power works also works on dead bodies, as long as the corpse is relatively intact.
Masque can also use his power to revert the changes he himself had caused, returning subjects to their previous appearances. There were other means to recover from Masque's power; the mutant Forge successfully returned Masque's victims to their original appearances.
Masque's power has several limitations: as he requires physical contact with his victims, people surrounded by force fields or similar protections are immune, as proved by the morlock Skids. Masque's changes do not affect the smell of the subject - people with superhuman senses allowing them to identify a person by their smell, like Wolverine, can identify whether they are meeting a person they know, or an impostor that Masque disguised.
Initially, Masque could not use it to alter his own hideous appearance. His powers of body manipulations later evolved so that he could alter his own flesh. The new limits of his powers were stated to be a secondary mutation by Charles Xavier. Apparently, when Masque's body was pierced by Shatterstar's sword in a purportedly lethal strike, Masque instinctively altered his own internal organs to survive, and ever since he has been able to modify his own body. He can modify his form to reduce height, but the specific limits of his powers are still to be seen.
Due to his long years of living in dimly-lit underground tunnels, Masque developed an excellent night vision.
Masque has the strength of a normal human of his weight and complexion.
A golf club.
- Bitter about his own ugly face, Masque despises the beauty and virtue of other people, including non-disfigured humans in the surface world and heroic features shown by people he knew. He used to be responsible for shaping the Morlocks' appearances, causing them to be ugly. Whenever new members joined the Morlocks, Masque was to re-build their faces, not always with the new members consent. That would cut their ties with their former lives, based on the fact that the Morlocks rejected human notions of beauty and also dressed in rags. His hate for Skids can be explained for his inability to disfigure her face due to her force field.
- The word "masque" (borrowed from French and pronounced as "mask") refers to a festive and artistic performance characterized by masked players who used to dance, sing and act. The word can be also used as an archaic variant of the word "mask" itself, more specifically to describe a facial mask. The name is probably a reference to Masque's mutant ability of altering other people's faces, like a mask.
- Originally, Masque was portrayed as a person with difficulties with expressing himself. He used to refer to himself in third person, similarly to Caliban. Years later, after seizing the control of the Morlocks, Masque unexplainably exhibited a much more articulated and flamboyant diction. This take on his personality would escalate during the "Storm: the Arena" storyline, in which Masque assumes an androgynous appearance, a feminine attire and a sassy body language.
- Originally, Masque was introduced as a man. After returning from apparent death, Masque was referred to with feminine pronouns when adopting a female. In his following appearance, back to his original appearance, Masque was portrayed and treated as a man once again.
- For the Arena storyline, Masque was completely revamped as a cross-dresser. Igor Kordey's designs for Masque explored lots of different haute couture looks for Marilyn Monroe's face in an androgynous body. This explains him being referred to with female pronouns. About this misinterpretation, X-Men writer Chris Claremont, creator of the character, claimed that "The staff vetting the book when it went to press was better than two years and a half-dozen editors removed from those who commissioned it. Writing styles changed in the interim -- so what started out as (Igor & I thought) a cool idea, namely why shouldn't Masque decide to hide his true appearance (or, why can't he be a cross-dresser?), Masque wearing a full-body Mask, sort of lost its explanation along the way. The hints we dropped, i.e. -- Masque debating between Elvis and Betty Page for his next incarnation, didn't do the trick. The pronoun confusion came about because the current editors assumed text followed appearance and matched accordingly. The book was moved up a full month on the production schedule (from January '04 to December, '03) for budgetary reasons, which meant that final production (including the inks) had to be crashed out willy-nilly. This was one of the elements that fell through the cracks."
- 55 appearance(s) of Masque (Earth-616)
- 4 minor appearance(s) of Masque (Earth-616)
- 4 mention(s) of Masque (Earth-616)
- 52 image(s) of Masque (Earth-616)
- 4 quotation(s) by or about Masque (Earth-616)